The Master of Customer Experience: What You Need to Know about the CXO

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Modern marketing increasingly concerns improving the customer experience; considering the needs of your users, delivering on their expectations, and delighting them in the process. Organizations are wisely prioritizing a consistent, pleasant, and compelling experience from the first touch through the sale and to re-engagement to differentiate themselves, improve processes, and build loyalty.

To handle this growing responsibility, a new C-suite executive is stepping up to the plate. The Chief Experience Officer (sometimes referred to as a Chief Customer Officer) is charged with leveraging best practices in user experience and innovating new ways to improve it, all with the ultimate goal of increased market share.

But to understand what the CXO does, you have to take a step back to understand why the position was created in the first place.

The Origin of Customer Experience

One of the first formal recognition of the potential of client experience as a discipline was back in 2007. The Harvard Business Review noted its rise in an article entitled Understanding Customer Experience by Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager. The authors argue that the degree of client satisfaction with a brand extends well beyond simple customer care; it extends through the entire customer lifecycle, beginning with advertising and ending when the product is no longer used

“Yet few of the people responsible for those things,” Schwager and Meyer write, “have given sustained thought to how their separate decisions shape the user experience. To the extent they do think about it, they all have different ideas of what customer experience means, and no one more senior oversees everyone’s efforts.”

Who Is A CXO?

CXO, or Chief Experience Officer, is an executive responsible for ensuring that the clients are happy and satisfied while purchasing and using the company’s services and products. This position establishes positive engagement between customers and the brand. Basically, the position serves as a bridge between the company and the clients; it also makes sure that customers have a great experience interacting with the brand and increases the number of the company’s loyal customers.

What Does A Chief Experience Officer Do?

One of the essential roles of this C-level executive is to implement a business strategy that is focused on the customer experience. The client-first approach should be incorporated into each part of the business operations.

CXO roles can include a wide range of responsibilities such as:

  • Setting, measuring, and improving KPIs and other metrics on customer satisfaction;
  • Building and managing UX design, Insights and Analytics, Customer Support teams;
  • Creating and implementing a Customer Experience (CX) strategy that is aligned with the business goals and overall strategy of the company;
  • Listening to the customers’ feedback and identifying their needs;
  • Building customer loyalty and retention.

Also, nowadays it is not only important to keep customers happy, but it’s equally essential to make sure that the front-line employees who are interacting with clients on a daily basis are also satisfied and share the company culture and values. The success of the company depends on the positive work attitude of the employees. A staff member who is happily employed by the company will greatly contribute to better customer relationship management. Hence, one of the CXO roles is to improve employee experience to truly create great customer care.

CXO Job Description

With the proliferation of mobile devices and the on-the-go consumer, many companies are putting the customer experience at the forefront of product discussions.

Having one go-to executive with the knowledge and authority to modify and calibrate the entire process makes it much easier to deliver a cohesive experience.

Speaking about chief customer officer job description, there’s a lot to build and maintain across an organization to deliver a better experience than the competition: from consistent messaging and design principles, user-friendly applications, personalized ads, responsive service, and more. Having one go-to executive with the knowledge and authority to modify and calibrate the entire process makes it much easier to deliver a cohesive experience.

While there has been a rise in chief experience officers– and other executive positions that are primarily concerned about the customer experience– the role is still new to the boardroom. Most individuals hired as the CXO are the first to hold that position inside a company.

CXO Meaning In Business

Customer care has become a very important component of any business because it directly impacts revenue. If the clients are having a great experience interacting with you, then they are much more likely to purchase your products or services. Thus, the person who is responsible for creating a great client service, the Head of Customer Experience department plays an essential role in the business. Yet, the recent trends are that CX is evolving fast and overtaking marketing to some extent because nowadays many companies believe that the client experience is the driving force of the business. Therefore, there is a growing demand for CXOs, especially in larger companies.

The CXO’s Place in an Organization

In order for a CXO to perform at a high level, the individual must have deep relationships with the entire executive team, especially the CTO, the CIO, CMO, and CCO.

It’s a mutually beneficial relationship–those more established executives stand to gain a lot by cooperating with the CXO and experienced team.

“CIOs today have a lot of challenges. They have a new technology stack to deal with that’s forcing them to rethink how they provide services,” Greg Petroff, CXO at GE says. “With the new technology stacks– like cloud and big data tools like Hadoop— you can do radically different things with the same amount of effort.”

Shep Hyken, Customer Service Expert, Gives His Thoughts On the CCO/CXO Role

video from Shep Hyken

Yet as important as the Head of Customer Experience can be in the boardroom, their teams of designers are also having a big influence on organizational processes. Heather Cassano, a former CXO at the Scholastic and current director of User Experience at Google, says the developers and engineers that code digital products should be closely integrated with the designers.

“The best way to do this is through an iterative approach where teams come up with creative ideas, developers and engineers implement those ideas and then those ideas get iterated on very quickly using the agile framework,” Cassano says. Having design integrated into the development lifecycle will result in a better end-user experience.

Leading an Experience Team

Carola Fellenz Thompson, CXO at Splunk, believes that the number one priority for this executive position should be to create a team that builds amazing user experiences to solve customer problems.

A well-built and managed experience team with executive authority offers a new kind of nimbleness that makes creating an organization-wide experience compelling and responsive.

“Aesthetics are great, we’re human beings and enjoy beautiful things, but the deep design hinges on understanding their users, so I want to make sure that people understand that,” she says. “Until we understand, there is no way that we can innovate.”

One way that CXOs do this is by bringing together professionals, such as experience designers, user experience researchers, front-end developers, and prototypers, under a single umbrella. For the first time, this group has a dedicated representative at the executive table and the ability to influence the company as a whole.

And that will offer innovative companies a competitive advantage. A well-built and managed experience team with executive authority offers a new kind of nimbleness that makes creating an organization-wide experience compelling and responsive.

So while the CXO may be the newer kid on the digital block, expect to see more organizations add this role in the near future. With the increased difficulty in designing a product that works across multiple devices in the new mobile-first world, the expertise and knowledge of a remarkable customer experience will become increasingly important.

Finding Veteran Leadership in an Emerging Field

More and more organizations are realizing the need for a single executive of the customer experience. But there aren’t many to be had. Proven talent in this area, especially at the executive level, is very difficult to find.

Without help, many organizations will likely have to settle for first-timers, either by transitioning a current executive to the CXO role or promoting a promising and ambitious individual from the ranks of UX managers.


Surprising Mistakes Made During A Customer Experience Executive Search

The key to developing a great cross-functional approach is to have the right leader who can influence and be a champion internally for the customer. The right customer experience leader will be able to take responsibility for making the transition flow smoothly and be accountable for making change happen within the organization. Overcome these challenges and speed up the interview process by investing in a partnership with an experienced marketing executive search firm.

More on the Emerging Role of the Chief Experience Officer

Top 25 Chief Experience Officer LinkedIn Profiles

What do today’s Chief Experience Officers look like? See who the best are, and what they’re doing.

Does Your Company Need a Chief Customer Officer?

Marketing Magazine recently spoke to Harley Manning, founder of the customer experience practice at Forrester Research, to learn more about why customer experience has become such a crucial area of focus.

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